Cream of Broccoli Soup

This week I finished Day 80 of my 80 day functional strength training program.  Over the course of 80 days, I completed some pretty tough workouts.  As I went through the three phases, I could feel my strength improving.  One thing I did not do, was follow the nutritional component that came with the program.  Unfortunately, I found it complicated and totally unrealistic.  Seriously, if you make it too complicated, nobody will stick to it.  That’s one of the main reasons people grab fast food, to keep it simple.  While I lost 10 pounds during this 80 day program, I know I still need to work on my nutrition as I plan to start running soon.  I’m slated to begin my running training on May 2nd, but don’t intend to do so until I lose a few more pounds.  There is no way I am going to stress my hip again and suffer another fracture.

Enter the online nutrition class I signed up for.  As part of this program, I receive lessons each week to read and listen to with suggested changes I can try.  I’ve learned a lot about macronutrients and how my body responds to different types of foods.  This current cycle’s focus is on intuitive eating with mostly plant based meals.  I’ve reduced my intake of animal protein during this phase to no more than 1 serving a day.  I actually do think I have been sleeping slightly better and I seriously have no cravings for sweet or salty foods.  I honestly have not even been craving a glass of wine when I cook.

It hasn’t been easy making all these changes.  The first phase was easy as I was really just tracking and observing how I felt.  Week two of plant based eating was more challenging for me than week one.  It’s not that I’m missing any specific food, it’s that I’m missing the variety of cooking options.  Currently, I don’t have an arsenal of plant based recipes in my cooking toolkit.  In the past, I would have already been reaching for pasta dishes and calling them plant based, but I know better than that now.  I also am not a huge fan of beans other than lentils which limits my choices as well.

One way I made my life easier this week was by purchasing pre-chopped salad.  This is something I never do, but if has offered me the opportunity to try out many different vegetable based salads without investing in large amounts of vegetables.  Sometimes, when I purchase fresh vegetables for recipes, I end up wasting them.  Either I can’t keep up with weeknight cooking, or they go bad.  These pre-chopped, bagged salads allowed me to try out different mixtures of raw vegetables to see which ones I prefer.  Now, I’ll be able to purchase ingredients for future meals without waste.

Trader Joe’s has some really nice versions of bagged, complete salad kits.  I don’t use the dressing included, but everything else included is good to go into my salad.  I’ve truly enjoyed the broccoli and kale slaw and the cruciferous salad kits.  They are perfect stand alone meals, or on days I’m adding in animal proteins make great sides.  This week, I even ate them for breakfast along with my eggs.  I added roasted sweet potato, mini cucumbers  and pomegranate seeds. This is something I never would have considered eating for breakfast in the past and it truly was delicious.68676FF0-D266-429D-A286-E9CBFAB1352A.jpeg

Dinner has been a bit harder to come up with ideas for protein sources without some form of animal protein, so I’ve got some work to do.  I am not a fan of legumes, so I’ve been adding nuts.  Tonight’s salad had pistachios and I added some chia seeds.  I’m continuing to search for interesting plant recipes to make for dinner.  Two that I enjoyed this week were Black Bean Burgers and Cream of Broccoli Soup.  Both were super easy to make and ready within 30 minutes, including prep.  This made them a great choices for after work cooking.

Cream of Broccoli Soup

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp of red pepper flakes
  • 1 small head broccoli, chopped, stems removed
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1 cup bone broth
  • ⅓ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, heat the oil and toss in the onion and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 4 minutes, then add in the garlic for 1 minute.
  2. Add the broccoli and stir for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and broth and bring to a simmer for 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cashews and simmer for 5 minutes. Cashews will be nicely softened and make for a creamy soup once blended.
  4. Carefully pour into a large blender, or Vitamix. Add the spinach, nutritional yeast, garlic powder and salt and pepper. Be sure to hold the cover or it will explode when you turn it on.  Blend until smooth. (If you have immersion blender use that.)
  5. If you need a bit more protein, consider topping your soup with an additional tablespoon of nutritional yeast and a sprinkle of hemp seeds.608A3A92-CA94-4DE6-8BA4-7C743431494D

*This recipe was shared by Chalene Johnson, 131

This soup was so delicious and creamy.  The coconut milk added a boost of healthy fats and flavor.  I added red pepper flakes to give it a nice bit of heat as well.  I planned to sip this soup at work all week, but it was so good there was nothing leftover.  Next time I’ll have to make a larger pot!  It was a lovely shade of green, which my phone just doesn’t capture well.

What are your favorite plant based sites and recipes?  Please do share below as I am on the lookout for new ideas.

 

 

Revised Recipe – Sausage & Peppers

This week, I was reminded of just how fleeting life can be.  One decision can alter the course of another person’s life in the blink of an eye.  We never really know what’s ahead and we have no control over some of it.  What we do have control over is the way we respond to these tragic life experiences.   This weekend, I’ve said many prayers for a young boy and his family.  I hope that in time they come to find solace in knowing there are many people here to support them.

Thankfully, this weekend my brother came up from North Carolina so I got to spend time with my entire family.  My two brothers and I haven’t been together since November and it’s not often we are all in the same place at the same time.  The weather was amazing on Saturday and it really was just what I needed.  This coming weekend, my children will all be home for my birthday so I’m excited for that as well.  There’s nothing like time with family, including of course good food, to soothe the soul in trying times.

Last month, I signed up for and started taking an online nutrition course.  Those who have been reading my blog for the past two years know that I’ve been to quite a few nutritionists.  While I have learned something from each of them, often I found they were trying to sell me something.  I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and take some courses to become more self sufficient.  I don’t want to live on pills and powders, as I love food way too much.  I spent the first four weeks of the course, tracking my eating and taking notes on how my body responds to certain foods.  I used an online tracking app – Lose It – to identify trends in my eating.  Specifically, I was looking at my macronutrient balance.  This experience was eye opening for me and coupled with the content I was reading and viewing, I had a better understanding of some personal issues.

These next three weeks, I am cutting back on animal based proteins, including eggs and dairy.  This week, I will not eat more than 3 meals in which my protein source is animal based.  The goal is to spend some time on a plant based diet and see how my body responds.  This is just one cycle I will go through to track and observe, nothing permanent.  Yet, this work doesn’t excite me as much as the prior cycle as I often use eggs and chicken as my protein source.  In planning my menu for the week, I must admit I wasn’t too excited about my options.  I’ve got some work to do to ensure I get enough protein, but I feel like I have a plan.  I’ve recently discovered that I love cruciferous foods, especially as a base for my salads.  I discovered that I can also chop up many other vegetables to look like a slaw and they suddenly taste so much better.FA6FF1BB-45C2-4D77-A684-3B02D9058CC8.jpeg

Today, my last day in the current cycle, I reflected on how much I’ve changed my eating habits when watching my macronutrient balance.  I was shooting for 15% carbs, 15% protein and 70% healthy fats these past few weeks.  I have noticed a change in my energy levels, cravings and sleep.

For Sunday sauce, my husband brought home some beautiful red, yellow and orange peppers and some hot Italian turkey sausage.  This simple substitution of turkey sausage cuts back significantly on the fat content of this staple meal.  Let’s face it, sausage is not exactly in the healthy fat category.  Honestly, if I didn’t know it was turkey I likely wouldn’t have noticed.  It was delicious.  Since I’ve discovered how much I like salads that are chopped fine, I’ve not missed my pasta or rice.  This type of salad makes a wonderful base for sauces and protein options.  Today’s version consisted of chopped cabbage – red and green, kale, broccoli, jicama and carrots.  Today’s salad was packaged and purchased at the store, but I am confident I can recreate this quite easily going forward.

Turkey Sausage & Peppers

Recipe used is identical to the one I’ve shared before, except I substituted the pork sausage for hot Italian turkey sausage.  Here is the link to that recipe – Sausage & Peppers

If making this salad fresh you’d need to chop all vegetables finely like you would for coleslaw.  I didn’t use any dressing as I had sauce to top it with.  I think the self proclaimed vegetable hater may come over to the dark side after this three week nutritional cycle.  Let’s see how it goes, I’ll definitely keep you posted and share my updated recipes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pulled Jackfruit (tastes like pork) Sandwich

Alzheimer’s sucks!  Just throwing that out there.  I’m sure anyone else who has walked this walk, knows exactly what I mean.  Alzheimer’s = losing your loved one, but they are still here.  It’s looking into your mother’s eyes and knowing she has no idea who you are.  No recollection whatsoever.  Imagine a disease that could make a mother forget her own child, or husband.  I can think of nothing worse.  In honor of this struggle faced by so many, I’ve decided this year to do a fundraiser give back for my birthday to support Alzheimer’s research and care.  It is my hope that someday soon they find a cure before another daughter, son, husband, wife or friend has to watch as their loved one fades away.  Ronald Reagan had it right when it called it the long, painful goodbye.  Please consider donating to this cause, any amount you can by clicking the link below.

Alzheimer’s Fundraiser – Laura’s Birthday

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Wish she knew whose hand she holds

My why for this blog and healthy living has always been about preventing my children from living this nightmare we are living.  If changing my eating habits gives me a better shot at avoiding this disease, then I’m in.  I’ve been experimenting with food lately and keeping an open mind about trying new foods.  Anyone who knew me as a kid, or knows me now, knows I’m not the most open to eating vegetables or new foods.  I’m a comfort food girl all the way – meat and potatoes.  But, my mom and grandmother were too, so if I want a different outcome I’ll have to step outside my comfort zone.

Today, I experimented with a new fruit I’d never even heard of until a few months ago.  I sent a recipe to my vegetarian brother for his cooking pleasure.  I asked about the fruit, but could never find it near me.  This week I found it at a local Trader Joe’s and decided to give it a shot myself.  Jackfruit is said to have the consistency of meat and take on the flavor of whatever you cook it in.  I’d never heard of it but was certainly surprised by the texture of this fruit.  It definitely has the look and texture of meat and if I hadn’t cooked it myself I would not have known it was not pulled pork.   I served it to my husband and told him it was pulled pork and he loved it and had no idea.  Of course, the BBQ sauce is what it’s all about and I’m not going to say that’s entirely healthy, but I tried to buy a healthier version.  Next time I will definitely make it myself to cut down on sugar.

Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of young green jackfruit in water
  • 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Saute onion in unsalted butter or olive oil for 4 minutes
  2. Remove Jackfruit from can, drain and rinse.  Pat dry.
  3. Place Jackfruit on cutting board and shred with two forks.
  4. Add to pan with onion and saute for 5 minutes.7AB8123E-724E-4D79-9B1D-D2BC9FE0687F.jpeg
  5. Add garlic and saute all 1 minute longer.
  6. Add 1 1/2 cups of BBQ sauce to pan and stir.
  7. Add salt & pepper to taste (I added no salt)
  8. Stir to combine and cover to simmer for 45 minutes289D1AB0-C820-4004-8F95-9463519A57C9.jpeg
  9. As it cooks continue to shred the Jackfruit as it softens.

I served mine with homemade coleslaw.  I plated it on one half an English Muffin, but you can go ahead and serve on whole wheat sandwich rolls. F6B5CF32-9DB0-4EF6-942A-3BFA2472FED5.jpeg Here’s the recipe for my coleslaw –

Recipe Swap – Creamy, Spicy Coleslaw

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Dang, that was so good!  I could probably eat another, but packed it up for lunch tomorrow.   If you try it, please let me know how you liked it.  Tangy, spicy, crunchy – can’t you just taste it.AF1E559F-31CC-415E-B0C1-6263A20D7CBE.jpeg

Thank you to all who have generously donated.  I greatly appreciate your generosity and support.

 

 

 

 

 

Resolutions are not Realistic

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential. – Ellen Goodman

Every January, I hear people talking about their resolutions for living a healthy lifestyle in the new year.  They will exercise more, eat better, stop drinking and the list goes on and on.  But, resolutions are not always realistic.  They are a promise you make to do things differently, but most times they are never fully carried out.

Every January, gyms are overcrowded with people who have made these resolutions.  They vow to come every day and start off strong, but inevitably they can’t maintain this pace because it’s not realistic.  You can’t go from not working out to working out every single day without some soreness, or loss of motivation.  I don’t set resolutions, I make plans.  They often say goals (insert resolutions) are dreams without plans.  I can’t agree more.  So, this year, instead of making a resolution to do a list of things, spend time planning for your success.  Buy a calendar and plan your weeks for healthier living – when will you workout, what will you eat.  This simple change could put you on the road to success.  Now that I’m close to being cleared to return to full activity, that is exactly my plan for this weekend.

Happy Holidays and New Year to all my readers.  I’d love to hear what your plans are for 2018.  Leave me a message below.

Click this link  –  New Year, New You!  to enjoy my New Year’s column to help you get started on your plans for 2018!

 

 

Celebrate You

Christmas is next weekend and for many it can be a time of great emotional pain.  There are empty chairs at tables around the table and loved ones left to deal with this loss.  One way I deal with it is to always keep my loved ones near.  I have something of these loved ones included on my tables when I set them.  It may be a simple thing like the salt shakers, or the china we eat on, or my memories of them sitting and laughing at my table.  It can be a very trying time, but we must celebrate life and continue our journey as that is what they would want for us.

When I think back on Christmas past, I often take out old photographs and am always surprised by how absent I am in large chunks of time.  I remember avoiding the camera at all costs but I never thought about the future and how I’d be noticeably missing from our past.  What will my children and grandchildren have to remember me by?  I wrote about this in a previous column and I think it’s worthy of a reread.  The unintended consequence of my action is that I removed myself from my children’s past memories.  Don’t let this happen to you.  Get in those photographs this year regardless of how you think you look.  I guarantee when you look back on them they will bring you joy and you truly won’t even notice!

Take a moment to read this column and leave me a note below.  Enjoy the holiday week with your loved ones and be sure to capture each moment.

Unintended Consequences

Highlight Reels

When you are recovering, or rebuilding your strength following an injury social media can be tough to view.  Each day my feed is full of photographs from my running friends who are sharing their successes. Most weekdays I wake to photographs of beautiful scenery from their runs.  Weekends are full of race medals, smiling faces and finish line celebrations.  Sure, I am happy for all my running friends who are continuing their journey.  Sure, I celebrate all their accomplishments, support and congratulate them – and I mean it.  But, that doesn’t mean it’s not hard for me and that I don’t feel like time is passing me by.  I miss my runs, I miss my races and I miss my running friends.

Recently, I went on Twitter and noticed a photo of a group having a meet up run.  I must admit I felt left out to not have even known about it.  It’s not that they didn’t tell me they were meeting, it’s that I wasn’t able to be there to run.  This run happens every year, I just wasn’t watching the run group calendar of events as I am currently on break.  I had that FOMO moment and really started feeling sorry for myself.   I got that nagging, whiny feeling of – “Why me?”  “Why is everyone else able to run without any injury and I get injured when I think about running.”   Then I reminded myself, that these photographs come from the “highlight reel” of their lives.  Every runner struggles with injury, aches and pain because running is hard work.  For every smiling photograph on social media, there are many other not so pretty moments on the journey.

This time of year can be especially hard on many people and social media can heighten these feelings.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, it may be a good time to take a break from it.  Get involved in something else to occupy the time you normally spend on social media.  I have been walking instead and to stay motivated I joined a Fitbit Challenge called the Workweek Hustle.  My work friend has been pushing me to walk more each day by upping her steps in this friendly competition.  The walking has helped me to clear my mind and spend less time on the computer.  That’s a win win for me on this recovery journey.  I hope you consider doing the same.

Last year around this time I wrote a blog about similar feelings that you may find interesting.

Me, Myself and I

Knowing you are not alone in the struggle can often lift you up.  Drop me a line and let me know how you’re doing.  Your notes of encouragement lift me up and often put a smile on my face.  Thanks to all who take time to comment each week, I greatly appreciate your thoughts.

There’s Always Tomorrow

There’s always tomorrow
For dreams to come true
Believe in your dreams, come what may.
There’s always tomorrow
With so much to do
And so little time in a day.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year….for gaining weight.  I’m not kidding, there are so many temptations all around me since Thanksgiving.  Everywhere I look there’s a holiday cocktail or snack and it’s oh so hard to not get caught up in it all.  Add in to this mix my inability to run, or do most workouts and I’m on sure fire path toward watching the scale creep up again.  It happens so very rapidly too, just a few weeks and I can find myself 10+ pounds heavier and my pants are already feeling tight!

Last Sunday, I began light walking and planned to walk a little each day this week.  While I got 6-7K steps at work each day, I never actually went for a walk.  Each morning, I’d tell myself that I would walk at lunch – never happened; or go down and do light yoga before work – never happened; or worse yet..I’ll just do it tomorrow which also never happened.  I am on that cycle of “tomorrow”, but unfortunately tomorrow never happens.

In a world that preaches – “There’s always tomorrow” when we fail to do what we set out to do, I’ve tried to live with a different philosophy.  Pablo Picasso once said, “Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”   I realize that’s a bit strong for the diet context, but it’s the best way to live life overall.  Why put off until tomorrow what one can do today?  Also, very good advice.  We are never guaranteed tomorrow, so living life with the idea that we should do all we can today in this moment can serve us well when trying to meet our health goals.

Here’s a few things that have helped me in the past to get back on track, as sadly this isn’t my first time struggling.  I hope you find one that helps you and I hope writing them down gives me a push out of my comfortable bed this morning.

1. Treat workouts like appointments – You would never stay in bed if you had a work meeting, so treat your workouts like that.  I work out in the morning, or it just doesn’t happen.  I know this and yet I tell myself I’ll walk at lunch.  That is just not going to happen, my job doesn’t allow it.  I need to schedule my workouts on a calendar with a set time and stick to it.  I’ve been a bit too lax since the injury, enjoying the extra time in bed to sip coffee and relax.  My body needed that break, but it’s time to get back on a schedule.  Doing less has also made me lazier.   Today, I will pull out my calendar and plan my workout week.

2. Set an alarm or reminder – It’s super easy to fall down that black hole in the morning.  You know the one I mean.  You are sipping coffee and open the computer to check email quickly.  Next thing you know it’s an hour later and you’ve missed your workout.  I’m going to set a reminder on my phone to buzz when it’s time for my scheduled workout meeting in the basement.  This will break my trance created by all the Facebook and Twitter feeds that pull me in and don’t let go.

3. Create routine – In keeping with my scheduling of workouts, I need routine.  My childhood revolved around strict routines, my parents may have been a bit excessive about it, so I tend to crave them.  The calendar will help, but putting specific routines on set days truly keeps me going.  It gives me something to look forward to and helps when I don’t love a workout to know it’s only one of the days in my week.

4. Keep it light – When motivation wanes it’s often a sign that you need to lighten things up a bit.  I know I need to recapture some of the fun of working out.  This is actually a perfect time to do this, as I’m not training for anything specific right now.  My short term goal is to get moving and have some fun.  I’m planning to look for some new trails to walk on, or try some new workout routines on Beach Body On Demand that I’ve not tried yet.

5. Stay in the present moment – I have to live more like my dog Sonny – in the present moment.  It’s so easy for me to become overwhelmed by one bad choice (alright, seriously there’s been more than one).  I just have to keep going and move on because when I beat myself up for one mistake, it just gives me excuses for the next one.

6. Get connected – Keeping my mental state in a healthy zone is critical for my success.  I am an emotional eater and it’s super easy at this time of year to go down that rabbit hole.  I miss my family being as it once was during the holidays.  I miss my mom and dad being with me at my tables.  Every song or scent evokes memories and they can become overwhelming.  I’ve got to keep pushing myself to go out and get connected with others.  Walking alone is great, but it’s so much more fun to walk with a friend, or my husband.  I can’t run with my running group right now, but there are other injured runners who would likely meet me to walk.  Find someone to connect with during this holiday season and see if it helps you get back in a healthier mindset.

That’s the plan for the week.  I’m going to do my Sunday cooking today so I have healthier food for the week.  I also plan to get some food for my work refrigerator and I bought a small Nutribullet machine for my office.  I’m hoping if I’m craving something sweet a nice shake might provide some satisfaction instead of the chocolate or cookies.  If not, at least I know I’m getting some extra vegetables and fruit into my diet.

How are you doing this holiday season with your eating and workout plans?  If you find yourself struggling, try one of these ideas and drop me a line to let me know if it helped.  You are not alone on this journey!  There are many of us walking this walk and together we will get it done.

Great read to help change your mindset:

 The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Inside the pages of this book are four life lessons that we all can draw upon in our daily lives.  Now especially, with our world in constant turmoil, with tensions running so high, I find myself relying on it heavily.  The four agreements are –

  1. Speak with Integrity – Your word is everything!  Say only what you mean and avoid negative self talk and gossip.  Use your words to speak the truth and of love.
  2. Don’t Take Anything Personally -Remember always that nothing others say or do is because of you, it is really a projection of their own reality.  Be immune to the opinions and actions of others and you will avoid much suffering.
  3. Don’t Make Assumptions – Do your research before you make an assumption about someone or something.  When in doubt save your energy and don’t worry about it.  Ask and be direct rather than fretting and worrying about things. Be sure.
  4. Always Do Your Best – Under any and all circumstances do your best each and every day.  Yes, your best will vary depending on the situation, but do the best you can at all times and you will never be full of self regret.

I use them in my daily life and often at work.  They really are about making a mindset shift and approaching life from a position of self love and positivity.